Senate Bill 436 (Sponsor Senator Thad Altman) is on the agenda of the Senate Appropriations Committee this Thursday. There are many good provisions in this bill, but there are as well two serious flaws that will destroy protections for owners that were created by the HOA Task Force in 2004. One would more or less legalize election fraud, the other one would seriously complicate recall procedures -- an issue the HOA Task Force tried to make as simple as possible.


Here is a copy of the e-mail I sent to the main sponsor -- Senator Thad Altman, who in his district is definitely no stranger to serious community association disputes!

Deland, April 16, 2013

Subject: S 436 -- 2 very controversial issues


Dear Senator Thad Altman,

you are sponsoring Senate Bill 436 -- a bill creating many changes regarding community association law.


I was a member of Governor Jeb Bush's HOA Task Force that created owner-friendly reforms in 2004, at that time sponsored by Senator Jeff Atwater. Among many other issues we added into the bill election challenges and provisions regarding the recall of board members. Many owners testified in front of the HOA Task Force about these two important issues and asked for these much needed reforms. Election challenges and recalls are the only way to make sure that owners have the ability to remove unwanted and/or dictatorial members from the board.


Your bill (version S436 C2) contains a provisions that makes election challenges nearly impossible:

Line 597 -598  (Condo FS 718); Line 1373 - 1375 (Co-Op FS 719); Line 2019 - 2021 (HOA FS 720)
597 c. Any challenge to the election process must be commenced
598 within 60 days after the election results are announced.

Sounds harmless, but makes it nearly impossible to challenge any fraudulent election. There is no tool -- court or otherwise -- to get the election documents within 60 days if the board is not giving the challenger the docs voluntarily. Nobody can file for election arbitration without having copies of the complete election documents. With this language in place a board could announce totally false election results, declaring victory even if they lost. On day 61 they could even admit that they announced false election results -- and nobody could do anything about it.

Here is the proposed fix:

c. Any challenge to the election process must be commenced within 60 days after turn-over of all requested election documents.

If the momentary language is enacted the bill legalizes election fraud.


The recall provisions created by the HOA Task Force worked since 2004 without serious problems. The members of the HOA Task Force decided on the language to make it easier for owners to successfully recall an unwanted board without creating high legal fees. The experience of the last 8 years showed that we succeeded. No matter what certain people are trying to tell you, the amended language makes things a lot more complicated and makes it partially even necessary for owners to hire expensive legal help. Actually, that seems to be the reason behind these proposed changes to the recall wording.

[Recall changes: Line 652 - 746 Recall Condo (FS 718); Line 1449 - 1542 Recall Co-op (FS 719); Line 1746 - 1887 Recall HOA (FS 720)]


Senator Altman, with all due respect, please don't help to destroy the owner-friendly reforms the HOA Task Force created in 2004. If you feel that the election challenge language should stay, please add the language proposed above.


The recall language works as is. Why making changes to a "winning solution?" Associations already pay a big share of their "maintenance" fees for legal bills. Why adding more billing hours?

If you have any specific questions, please let me know! Your help to resolve these problems in an otherwise good bill would really be appreciated!


Warm Regards,

Jan Bergemann, President
Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

1156 Tall Oaks Rd.
Deland, FL. 32720-1225

Phone: (386) 740-1503


Please write e-mails to the committee members -- see below -- asking them to remove these two serious flaws before voting YEA on the bill. These two provisions are outright dangerous.

Thank you!

Senate Committee on Appropriations

Senator Negron, Chair
Senator Benacquisto, Vice Chair
Thursday, April 18, 2013
TIME: 9:00 a.m.5:00 p.m.
PLACE: Pat Thomas Committee Room, 412 Knott Building

Committee Members


Chair: Senator Joe Negron (R) [email protected]
Vice Chair: Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto (R) [email protected]
Senator Aaron Bean (R) [email protected]
Senator Rob Bradley (R) [email protected]
Senator Bill Galvano (R) [email protected]
Senator Andy Gardiner (R) [email protected]
Senator Denise Grimsley (R) [email protected] 
Senator Alan Hays (R) [email protected]
Senator Dorothy L. Hukill (R) [email protected]  
Senator Arthenia L. Joyner (D) [email protected]
Senator Jack Latvala (R) [email protected]
Senator Tom Lee (R) [email protected]
Senator Gwen Margolis (D) [email protected]
Senator Bill Montford (D) [email protected]
Senator Garrett Richter (R) [email protected]
Senator Jeremy Ring (D) [email protected]
Senator Christopher L. Smith (D) [email protected]
Senator Eleanor Sobel (D) [email protected]
Senator John Thrasher (R) [email protected]


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